Edgar Allan Poe? Edward Hastings Ford? Lloyd Biggle Jr.? Pat Williams? Joss Whedon? Bumper Sticker? T-Shirt Slogan? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement has been attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, the influential writer of detective fiction and the macabre:
I don’t suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it!
Poe died in 1849 and I think this expression only emerged in the twentieth century. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Poe said or wrote this quotation. An article titled “Did Poe Really Say That?” on the website of “The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe” in Richmond, Virginia examined the saying and concluded that it was not from Poe. 1
The earliest instance located by QI appeared in a 1946 article “That’s No Gag, That’s a Switch” published in “The New York Times”. The piece presented many examples of the construction of new jokes via the modification of existing jokes. According to the paper the quip was originally crafted by the comedian Edward Hastings Ford who performed using the persona ‘Senator’ Ed Ford. The phrasing was different, but the core jest was the same. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 2
Senator Ford, one of the best of the topical talkers, takes this oldie:
“Does anyone in your family suffer with rheumatism?”
“Sure, what else can they do but suffer with rheumatism?”
and switches it to:
“Does anyone in your family suffer from insanity?”
“No, they enjoy it.”
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- Website: The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe, Article title: Museum News: Did Poe Really Say That?, Article Author: Kelly, Date on website: September 10, 2014, Website description: Web presence of the Poe Museum of Richmond, Virginia. The Museum is located in The Old Stone House. (Accessed poemuseum.org on December 20, 2015) link ↩
- 1946 May 12, New York Times, “That’s No Gag, That’s a Switch” by Joe Laurie Jr. (Stage and radio comedian), Start Page 21, Quote Page 59, New York. (ProQuest) ↩